Over the last decade, we have witnessed a series of positive trends in the food industry. From the invention of the first-ever 3D-printed, plant-based burgers to discovering how to personalize food for hospital patients , the world of 3D-printed food has been shaped by some momentous discoveries. Many 3D-printed food companies have made an impact on the nutritional value of the ingredients, while focusing on reducing waste and minimizing the environmental footprint of food production and cooking—which accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions . For the most part, the creative role of 3D printing can help redefine how meat substitutes are designed and produced to mimic the taste of real meat.
For the last two years, Tel Aviv startup Redefine Meat has been developing a new additive manufacturing (AM) technology to create animal-free steaks. Today, the company finally unveiled the world’s first alternative meat product using a customized industrial 3D printing technology designed especially for the job.
Aiming beyond radically shaping food or choosing healthy ingredients, Redefine Meat expects to deliver a new category of complex-matrix “meat” in a cost-effective and scalable way. The newly-revealed Alt-Steak products will begin market testing at a limited number of selected high-end restaurants in Europe later this year. Then, after incorporating feedback from leading chefs, the company hopes to ramp up production of its industrial meat 3D printers and alt-meat formulations ahead of full market commercialization in 2021.
“Since day one of the company, we have been working on creating a tasty and affordable plant-based alternative to steaks, one of the most cherished food products and the driver of the entire meat industry,” said Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, CEO and co-founder of Redefine Meat. “To enable mass adoption, we knew that creating an alternative meat product that was both high in quality and nutritional composition would require new technologies and production processes never seen before in the food industry. Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era in alternative meat – the Alt-Steak era – driven by production processes that will accelerate the development of a wide range of alt-meat whole muscle products and create a sustainable alternative to raising and eating animals.”
Created using Redefine Meat’s patent-pending meat 3D printing technology, the company claims that it’s new product has the texture, flavor, and appearance of beefsteak and can be produced at volume and cost to enable large-scale market launching. According to the company, its unique 3D printing technology is already capable of producing over 50 steaks an hour, offering the quantity and price required to enable mainstream adoption.
“The importance of using precision 3D printing technology to achieve texture, color and flavor – and the combinations between them – cannot be overstated. By using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, we can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect Alt-Steak product,” Ben-Shitrit went on. “This is unique to our 3D printing technology and lets us achieve unprecedented control of what happens inside the matrix of alt-meat. Collaborating with an industry-leader like Givaudan has led to the creation of an Alt-Steak product that is not only healthy and sustainable, but also offers the satisfying flavors, textures and aromas of eating actual meat.”
Working with leading butchers, chefs, food technologists and thanks to a close collaboration with Swiss-based company Givaudan , the leading manufacturer of flavors and fragrances, Redefine Meat has digitally mapped more than 70 sensorial parameters into its Alt-Steak products, including premium beef cuts texture, juiciness, fat distribution, and mouthfeel. The company’s food 3D printers use multiple plant-based formulations, including Redefine Meat’s Alt-Muscle, Alt-Fat, and Alt-Blood, to create high-protein, no cholesterol steaks.
Last May, the 3D-printed plant-based products were put to the test by leading Israeli chef Assaf Granit (as seen in the video below). After tasting Redefine Meat’s Alt-steak embedded in caramelized onions and saffron tahini, the chef described the experience as “playing with your mind.” Even after cooking one of his traditional meat-based recipes called Shikshukit with Redefine’s alternative product, Granit stated that the flavor was “almost identical” and that “8 out of 10 people would not tell the difference, if not more.”
But Redefine Meat is not doing this alone. Its ecosystem of industry-leading investors and partners offer a wealth of expertise and financial backing to bring its product to market, partners like Givaudan are expected to be announced next week.
With outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus in slaughterhouses across many countries, the international meat trade market has slowed down, disrupting the supply chain and raising prices in a system that is dominated by a handful of vast companies. This may be a sign that the world is ready for an entirely different way to eat sustainable steaks that look, cook, and taste just like beef.
In fact, industrial-grade 3D printers producing meat alternatives close to the point of sale could remove the need to source meat from around the world, reinventing the traditional food supply chain, helping solve the global food production dilemma and, most of all, reducing the detrimental effects of the food industry on the environment. Today, the practices of the modern livestock industry, which is responsible for killing more than 300 million cows for food, can wreak havoc by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural land, and freshwater use.
So, considering that one of the world’s most pressing challenges is to produce and consume meat products in a way that reduces its environmental impact, then 3D printing technology offers a significant opportunity to elicit meaningful change to a meat lover’s diet, by turning what might at present be unpalatable sources of protein into tasty, nourishing dishes that could make us more aware of what we are putting into our bodies.
This latest milestone in Redefine Meat’s product could be just what the alternative meat 3D-printed food industry needs to make scalable products that adhere to demanding customers looking for substitutes that taste, feel, look and even smell like real beef, with all the benefits of non-meat protein.